SJC is one of the 38 projects funded in 2023 by the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps Commission, for projects that hire and train youth to carry out community and conservation projects.

Youth Conservation Corp members work on clearing weeds.

San Juan College and the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) have teamed up again this summer. San Juan College is one of the 38 projects funded in 2023 by the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps Commission, which allocates state governmental gross receipts taxes to fund projects that hire youth to carry out community and conservation projects, and train them in a variety of job, life, career and conservation skills.

Daily life as part of the YCC

Beginning in early June, employees between the ages of 18 to 25 have spent their mornings performing conservation and campus beautification projects. Then, in the afternoons, they received training in classes such as First Aid, CPR/AED, Belay and Lead Climbing, Water Safety and the Environment, Microsoft Office certification, Career Planning, Financial Literacy, Conservation theory and techniques, Leave No Trace and more. The best part is, they are paid for an eight-hour work day. “We have been working with the YCC for many years,” says Jon Betz, director of the SJC Health and Human Performance Center (HHPC). I first worked with them back in 2002 through 2006. In the past, we partnered with the City of Farmington and Farmington Municipal Schools and shared projects. This is the first year SJC submitted an application to the NMYCC independently.”

Teaming up with the SJC grounds department

The YCC are working with the SJC Grounds Department to remove noxious weeds, remove water dependent plant species and replace with drought tolerate species, install new landscaping rock and weed barrier. Then in July, they will be working at the SJC Bike Park and Trail system. They will install new posts and cable fencing, remove noxious weeds, remove debris, perform trail maintenance, and develop new trails. Later in July and early August, the team will be performing routine maintenance on the Challenge Course and the disc-golf course. “We have 15 Corps members consisting of two team leaders and 13 crew members,” continues Betz. “They are from many communities within San Juan County. We have been very pleased with the Corps’ members. They are doing great work, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”